It feels like everyone I know is spending their time off in Colorado, and our politicians are no exception. Vice President Mike Pence and his family have been staying in Aspen, Colorado for the holidays, but not everyone is feeling jolly about it. In fact, the VP's neighbors strung a "Make America Gay Again" sign at Pence's vacation home, offering a different kind of season's greeting.
According to The Hill, the Vice President's neighbors placed a rainbow flag with the words "Make America Gay Again" on a pillar that sits at the end of both families' driveways. The Aspen Times reported that the banner was hung by the daughters of the couple who live in the home and one of their girlfriends, "with the full support of their parents."
Because of Pence's vice president status, Secret Service agents are posted at the foot of the driveway, so they witnessed the hanging of the banner. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said that one of his deputies also watched the banner being hung, but the family did not face any backlash or punishment.
"When [the deputy and Secret Service agents] said, 'We're not here to control your free speech rights,' [the family] came out with chili and began feeding them," said Sheriff DiSalvo. "They've been really nice to us."
Vice President Pence has been outspoken about his opposition to gay marriage and other issues and freedoms important to the LGBT community. According to The Hill, he supported a 2006 amendment that would have legally defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry. At the time, he stated that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to “societal collapse.”
More recently, he rejected the Obama administration's directive promoting transgender bathroom rights. In October, an article in the New Yorker claimed that President Trump joked about the Vice President wanting to "hang" all gay people (Pence's spokeswoman Alyssa Farah has denied the legitimacy of the article, though not the comment itself).
The banner in Aspen is not the first instance of the Vice President — and the rest of the Trump administration — being trolled. As early as the inauguration, opponents of the vice president have fought back with a number of demonstrations, tweets, and donations. On Jan. 19, demonstrators gathered outside of Pence's D.C. residence to protest Pence's anti-LGBT stances with a "queer dance party." Hundreds gathered to "send a clear message to Daddy Pence that we will not tolerate bigotry and hate in our country," sporting tutus and rainbow flags and dancing to pop music.
In early December, independent ad agencies Baldwin& and Hunter S. & Thompson launched Troll Tax, a website that allows anyone to donate to a progressive organization in the name of any internet troll. According to Fast Company, donors can simply paste the URL of a troll tweet into the site, choose from a list of nonprofits to donate to in the troll’s name, and tweet a confirmation back at the troll. "Trolls" doesn't exclude politicians, so there's plenty of opportunity to donate in the name of, say, an anti-LGBT vice president.
On Dec. 20, Dictionary.com trolled the Vice President after The Washington Post detailed a cabinet meeting in which Pence praised President Trump for three minutes straight, amounting to about once every 12.5 seconds. The reference website quote-tweeted the article and offered a definition of the word "sycophant." According to Dictionary.com, a sycophant is a "self-seeking, servile flatterer; [a] fawning parasite." Even rival reference site Merriam-Webster has expressed distaste for the Trump administration, tweeting out the definition of "claqueur," a person hired to applaud at a performance, shortly after President Trump's inauguration.
It's definitely been a year of trolling, and based on this latest troll in Colorado, it's sure to continue in 2018.
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